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Part of the scandal that’s engulfed a P3 water contract in Montreal is the money spent on contracting out jobs the city’s own workers could have done.

The city of Montreal’s auditor has issued a devastating report that spells the end for a scandal-plagued P3 water meter contract. In his report, the auditor says CUPE municipal workers could have done some of the work in-house.

The city paid to train and accredit hundreds of plumbers from private firms. But Michel Parent, the president of CUPE 301, says the city’s outside workers could have been trained and accredited to plan for, install and maintain the meters. Parent says he met with management to say the workers were capable of doing the work themselves, but got an unequivocal ‘no’ in response.

By contracting out the maintenance for a 15-year period, the city of Montreal would have completely lost its expertise, and would have been at the mercy of the private sector,” Parent told the media yesterday.

Monique Cote, president of the city’s inside workers, joined Parent in calling for the city to keep expertise in-house – and to look to its own workers first before resorting to private corporations.

Parent describes the water meter situation as “the biggest scandal in city hall history.” It’s Montreal citizens who’ve lost the most in the scandal, he says.

CUPE pointed the finger at conflicts of interest and the threat of privatization early on in the contract.

The cancellation of the P3 water meter contract in the middle of municipal elections has rocked the Montreal political scene.

Mayor Gerard Tremblay cancelled the contract – the largest the city had ever signed – yesterday. City auditor Jacques Bergeron identified many major problems with the deal, including the city’s decision to contract out legal work on the contract as well as oversight of the bidding process.

  • Summary of the auditor’s key findings